Thursday, December 31, 2009


Well it is far into New Year's Eve today in Paris and it is another decade change. I should ruminate on all the things I have been doing, sharing stories and adventures that have come to pass. But let's just do that another time eh?

I remember the turn of the century fairly easily, my family had a party with close family friends. I drank St. Julian's, positive it was better that any Champagne or alcohol that anyone else was drinking. Eating mini-quiches (God Bless Quiche)and running around with sparklers. I vaguely remember the notion of Y2K and the earth ending yadda yadda yadda, but didn't really understand what it was stemmed from. At Midnight, I had it all planned out: I had my dog under one arm, and the first three HP books and a picture of my family under the other. Those were the most important things to take into the new mill in my 10 year old opinion. And then, at the exact second, I snapped a picture of the Dick Clark Ball dropping and the clock illuminating 11:59:59 1999. I still have the picture and yes it is just as and even more epic than it sounds.

If I had thought about where I would be in 1o years, or even thoughts such as these, do you think Paris would have crossed my mind? Hmmmm, probably not at that point. Amazing the things that have happened in ten years. This is my first really understood decade. I can look back at the naughties (Time magazine has declared it the naughties and I enjoy it) and truly remember each year.

I'm not going to get nostalgic, in fact quite teh opposite. Thinking of all the things I am going to do and all the things I want to do AND KNOWING that they are all possible and it lies in my hands, this knowledge is the most empowering, drug-like high feeling I've ever had. As I walked home this morning on quiet Paris streets as the sun was rising, I felt overwhelmed with...I can't even...hmmm-if there was a word combination of accomplishment, elated, powerful, hungry and content. Just To Think! Where will I be in ten years (and no this isn't an anti-drug channel one commercial....)? I'm guessing Africa. That's just a far-off hope and educated guess. Let's not jinx it. To all: A Happy New Year and know that all these years to come have so much to offer, no matter who you are. Cheers mate!!!!!
In Review:I'll do 22,...just for a nice round number. And by round I mean that 2 is my favorite number and that is 2 2's. Yeah! It wouldn't let me rearrange them, so no particular order.

Claire Winter Foncée Gorton
Song: "Eyes as Candles" by Passion Pit

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

National LamPoole's Christmas Vacation + 1 American.

I am sitting here in our rented car (or as the aussies say, the car they hired) using teh internet. I am on top of the hill above our mountain chalet in the little town of Le Biot int eh French Alps.

I, in wonderful Claire fashion, had some exciting adventures. After my last exam, where my professor told me I was a brilliant young political scientist...but have problems expressing myself in French (YOU THINK?) I headed home to fully pack from my month of traveling and holiday fun. Robyn also had her last exam and MADE me drink champagne...(forced I tell you....) and I packed up Beau D into my dorm room with his newly transplanted leg/pedal (another story for another night) and rushed off to teh bus where I was meting benji to give him his Chrismakkuh present. It started off fine, I was a little heavy loaded but good.

Then the wrapping on benji's present fell off. OH well.

Then I had three minutes until my bus left for the train station.....come on come on come on come on come onnnnn NO. I am walking up to teh station when my bus pulls away. I flag heavily and yell to no avail. Ben looks at me with this look of deep apologies and tell me that he even went around an opened up all of the luggage carriers in order to slow her down. No bust. We exchange words, make goodbye noises and I get ont eh next bus to teh TGV station...should have about 3 minutes to spare if all goes well. I remember I am in France and let out a few expletives (though many in French).

I get to teh train station with 2 minutes to spare and race u teh stairs because for God knows what reason the elevator is broken. I run onto teh platform as the guard is blowing his whistle and scream "attends! attends!!" I am running the train starts moving! He waves at me and I jump on with another couple at my heels. I'm on! I'm really on!! Putains de PHEW!

Well, I get to Paris no sweat, meet up with Caitlin and Matt no sweat and teh Poole's. Meet my family for teh next three weeks and they are all so lovely! AND, I have never seen such a diversified family. it i bizarre, they ahve this quality of Poole-ness to them...but are all different shapes and sizes and hair colors. It is fascinating.

Anyway, we hire the car and BARELY fit inside. I mean luggage on our laps and still barely fit...this is where national LamPOOLE's Christmas vacation comes in. We are driving to le Biot from Lyon and it is taking a little while because of course Aussie's rive ont eh wrong(left) side of the road so it is a little confusing. Plus everything is on French. But we get 8 km from our town and we start to ascend this mountain pass. I'm thinking, not as bad as little problem. Then I AWD. I nervously as..."this car has ABS right?" yes, it oes. Phew.

Then it starts to snow.....

30 minutes later. Shoot to all teh children running around outside frolicking int eh snow as the aussies don't really get a lot of the white stuff down unda. (P.S. I will (and already sorta am) speak with an Australian accent before the end of this trip. By gosh its insane. I'm sayying weird differently and other ones I can't remeber because it sounds NORMAL TO ME NOW! AHHHH)

We are stuck int eh snow/can't move becsue teh tires just keep is too heavy and no AWD or 4x4...we abandon the car. But our lovely chalet people pick us up and we arrive to salad and hot french lasagna.

Since then we've been munching on chocolat and enjoying the wonderful scenery, going skiing tomorrow. I brought my boots but had to rent skis. When I went tot eh place and saw teh man fitting mine all up A horrible fleeting thought came across my head....I will basically have to re-learn my job at the ORP, I can barely remember anything!!!!!....Oh well.

Ok, going inside to help with dinner and learn some more pertinent Aussie traditions to solidify my amerussie status.

Bonne Fêtes!

Oh and we went to Carrefour and I may or may not have bought "the Tales of Beetle the Bard" in french.....I HAD to right??? To practice my french, right??? Come onnnn, right????. Shut up.
Song "I'm yours" new rendition...

Friday, December 18, 2009

That whole communication thing.

As to prevent Joe from calling the embassy to find me again I will provide a few details of my whereabouts over the next month. I don't know how often I will be able to blog, but I am hoping frequently.

Today:17 décembre 2009: Currently in Paris staying with Caitlin and her friend Matt who is studying here at Science-Po.

17-20th of décembre: In Paris and meeting up Caitlin's family in order to re-group and head to the Alps for Christmas!

20th-28th of décembre: Staying with Caitlin's family in the Alps 20 km away from Geneva.

28-5th of décembre and janvier: Back to Paris for a ROCKIN New Year's Eve and Day celebrations. Then Nicklaus meets up on the 3rd and we fly to.....

5th Janvier: VENICE! We fly to venice and meet up with Sir Maximilian for a stay in Venice and a nice picturesque drive to Graz.

10-13th janvier: Graz, Austria with my boys until I fly to....

13-17th janvier: LONDON TOWN baby with my own personal tour guide Benj. We then meet up with Naz, Caitlin and hopefully Roby for a fun-filled cold, wet, island in the Atlantic adventure.

17th janvier: Fly back to Marseille.....Sad day....except I get to be reunited with my boyfriend....BEAU D!

Claire Winter Gorton
Song: Sounds of Paris....
Sorry no pictures...

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

When studying gets boring...

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary,
Over many a faint and confused volume of International Org,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my dorm room door.
`'Tis just joshua' I muttered, `tapping at my dorm room door -
Only this, and nothing more.'
Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying member, from our heads our hair we tore.
Eagerly I wished the morrow; - vainly I had sought to borrow
The textbooks, my lack of knowledge matched by sorrow - sorrow for what is in store
For Langeron, our sole patron, who truly knew what’s in store,
Oh dear Angels! What’s in store?-
Nameless here for evermore.

And the silken sad uncertain rustling of my shower curtain
Thrilled me - filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating
`'Tis just Joshua entreating entrance at my dorm room door -
Just late and stressing, cherching food at my dorm room door; -
This it is, and nothing more,'

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
`Sir,' said I, `or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was at study, or facebooking to clear a muddy,
Head, so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my dorm room door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you' - here I opened wide the door; -
Darkness there, and nothing more.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no cuqu-er ever dared to dream before
But the silence was foreboding, and the darkness only stoking,
My fears of the le guardien, “don’t touch Beau, I’ll close my door!”
This I whispered, an echo murmured back the words, `Is your mind not yet sore?’
Merely this and nothing more.

Back into the dorm room turning, all the l’ONG’s I’m learning
Were interrupted by a tapping near my window, louder than before.
`Surely,' said I, `Surely tis just the pigeons ogling;
Let me see then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore -
Let my heart be still a moment and my mind dare implore; -
'Tis Just Macgregor and of course nothing more!'

Open here I flung the glass, In so hoping fresh air to pass,
But in there stepped a smoking rooster undeniably from France.
Not the least of manners made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, knocking me on shoulder sore, he flew to perch above my chamber door -
Perched upon my best green fleece, just above my chamber door -
Perched, and smoked, and nothing more.

Then this red, feathered bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the smirking and flirtatious countenance it wore,
`Though thy cheeks be well-defined, thou,' I said, `art sure no friend of mine.
Ghastly smelling and rude rooster wandering from the night club tour -
Tell me what thy lordly name is on this night you stop at my door!'
Quoth the rooster, `Nevermore.'

Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning - little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door -
Bird or beast above the green fleece upon his chamber door,
With such name as `Nevermore.'

But the rooster, sitting lonely on the fuzzy jumper, it spoke only,
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing further then he uttered – not even when I buttered -
some vegemite, until I muttered ‘Org’s Int’l, tis what I study for -
On the morrow I will ace thee, as my hopes are highly for.'
Then the bird said, `Nevermore.'

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so cockily spoken,
`Doubtless,' said I, `what it utters is it has only practiced for,
Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful disaster
Followed fast and followed faster until his orale examen burden was bore-
Till the dirges of his hope that melancholy burden bore
Of "Never-nevermore."'

But the rooster still beguiling all my sad soul into smiling,
Straight I wheeled my desk chair seat in front of bird and fleece and door;
Then, upon the plastic sitting, I betook myself to fitting
this Fancy unto fancy, where puzzle pieces should belong or-
How this rude and fowl fowl, knew my up and coming score
and what he meant in `Nevermore.'

This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl whose laughing eyes now burned into my bosom's core;
This and more I sat divining, with thoughts of Langeron reclining
into those of fowl, and l’ONG’s who had governed o'er,
All my thoughts were now floating into this fair bird of yore,
Does he know? What’s in store??!

Then, methought, the air grew damper, like our over-flowing hamper,
with the weight of our exam, these thoughts, they scared me to the core.
`Wretch,' I cried, `thy God hath lent thee - by IEP, it has sent thee
Respite - respite and nepenthe from thy studies, for what is in store!
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe, tell, will I survive what is in store?!'
Quoth the rooster, `Nevermore.'

`Prophet!' said I, `thing of evil! - prophet still, if bird or devil! -
Whether tempter sent, or whether bread has begged thee here ashore,
Desolate yet all undaunted, A study-guide is all I wanted -
On examen eve, I am haunted - tell me truly, I implore -
What of my subject, l’ONU, l’ASEAN? - tell me - tell me, I implore!'
Quoth the rooster, `Nevermore.'

`Prophet!' said I, `thing of evil! - prophet still, if bird or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above us - by that God we both adore -
Tell this soul with sorrow wrought, if dictophone had I bought,
Would the knowledge I had sought, be at ready for what’s in store?-
will I decipher from my notes, enough data for what’s in store??'
Quoth the rooster, `Nevermore.'

`Be that word your sign of leaving, bird or fiend!' I shrieked upheaving -
`Get thee cigarette put out, and fly to where you came before!
Leave no smoke plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my internet unbroken! – I need it for internat’l Org!
Wipe thy ash from my notes, and leave me to study as before!'
Quoth the rooster, `Nevermore.'

And the rooster, never flitting, still is smoking, still is sitting
On the now ashy green fleece of yore, just above my dorm room door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming,
And computer screen light is streaming to throw his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow, fore’er belongs to int’l org
Shall be lifted - nevermore!

Here is what this poem would had looked like if Edgar Allen Poe Had lived in the 21st century as a foreign exchange student in France...

Claire Winter Gorton
Song: "Joy it brings" DMB

Monday, December 7, 2009


Just in case I eat TOO many pain au chocolat or croissants or gaufres.......There is always this:

I am been über busy, and studying for literally 6-7 hours a day....So I have not been very good with this b(log). I have three ideas to write and want to write about but just not the time. Sorry.

obviously... "big girl" Mika

Interestingly enough, fat bottomed girls is my favorite queen song...hmmmmm.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Mama said, you can't hurry conversion, no you just have to...

Lost in Conversion

My room, as you may or may not know is quite European. It has a nice window without a screen (European) and a beautiful view of a provençal town (European/French) with walls made of stone (European) and is the size of a sardine can (albeit clean but EUROPEAN). Well, in order to make it a little more homey and since all my friends and family failed me (I received ZERO pictures) I decided to print off pictures to put up on my wall and add some flare (at least fifteen pieces).

So I pick them and cannot wait to have them up on my wall. I go to fnac to print them off one day before class. Slightly in a hurry, and go through the motions. I pick the smallest size that is a 6x8 because they don’t need to be big and at home the smallest is always big enough.

I return two days later to pick them up. Josh is with me, I pay and go out side and open the package…..


Yeah, so 6x8. 6cm by 8cm. Equals A LOT smaller than I pictured n my mind. They are teeeeeeny. About the sixe of a wallet photo. Now because I ordered about 35 o them it isn’t a big deal. I can plaster them all over without my wall looking like my camera puked all over it. Concise, right? Neat, right?

Yeah, we’ll stick with that. Josh said that my face when I open my package will forever be engrained in his mind. I’m guessing t was funny and not because I was light up with joy or ecstasy.

So here is my wall of pictures.

And here is one with some scale. Mmmmm, scale...

Ohhhhh the metric system. Don’t ever be in a hurry when converting.


Song: "Take me Home" Phil Collins

Monday, November 23, 2009

Bright Eyes and Foncée hit Europe

Hello, quite sorry. Well More just feel like I have to say that, because I've been having the time of my life with my sister over here in France. Except for that one moment where we bickered over what to wear to Monaco. But without some bickering we wouldn't be Grace and Claire. And to give us some credit we were headed to a different country with 4 minutes to spare and a couple of wine glasses in...

So I've been MIA. With my Bucky Dun Gun just Comin' Around. Ish. I've spent the last week (glowing as Caitlin put it) happy as a clam with my sister at my side. We went hiking, we played (DOMINATED) soccer, went to a french wine party at my school, marché-ed, got grace sufficiently high on coffee, late-night-kebab-ed-it, got Grace hit on my some HOT boys (then some that weren't so hot and got stood up for by some chivalrous french men) and all in all a wonderful week in Aix.

NEXT? A weekend in Nice with the one and only Lord Maximilian, el toro himself. :) We took the train to Nice on 3 hours of sleep and I dozed from the gentle swaying of the train and turned my dreams to turqoise blue water. I woke up gazing through my reflection in the window out to the Mediterranean Sea, crashing and pulsing.

Headed down to Old Nice or Veuille Nice as the french fly. We wandered through the streets there, lost in time and each other's company. The thing about being with Grace is this underlying yet overwhelming sense of timelessness. She has always been in my life, and always will. One moment I feel 8 again with my older sister telling me what to do and all the things we're going to do and I'm giddy like an 8 year old. Then I feel 37 where I can see us walking arm in arm in some other magnificent city discussing those crazy years in Utah. Then I'm 16 arguing with her because she is trying to do what is best for me and all I do is pick fights. If you read Harry Potter, sometimes I feel like my head got stuck in one of those time balls like teh death eater in the Department of Mysteries. If you don't read Harry potter, I am probably not friends with you and you don't get any of this anyway ( :D).

I was so utterly happy, just exploring cool leather shops, neat pottery places, tunisien patries, and of course some french bread. Then we headed back to the hotel to meet up with Max!! I felt like the luckiest girl alive. I was in Nice with Grace and Max! I knew a good weekend was on it's way.

To go through all the sights, conversations, laughs, smells, bathroom searching, 100-euro-winning moments would take longer than the weekend we actually spent together. We walked and drank and sat on teh beach watching NUMEROUS swimmers (Cold??) just sort of frog (no pun intended) around in the water. It was a blast from the past, yet so full of promise. Max and I were discussing our next weekend away, and helping Grace plan her trip here in the Spring. It was one of those short moments that you know are just a bead threaded on a long line of string that stretches across the years. Many more to come, each one trumping the last. As I said goodbye to my sister for 5 months and Max for shorter I still couldn't help but smiling. The smile lasted all the way back to the beach where I sat again for the last time this trip, soaking up the sun and waiting for my train. These feelings, moments, sights, stories, THESE are what we live for. Not the ones that are so obviously good. Walking along the beach int eh French Riviera with your sister and favorite Austrian, no. The moments I live for are when those people have left, you're leaving and you technically should be sad. But you can't be. You cannot be sad because you are so full of love and happiness and optimism. Beating the odds, overcoming the situation, that's when you know happiness has permeated your life.

Claire Winter Foncée Gorton
Song: "Electric Avenue" Eddy Grant
Pictures are just a few, don't have all of them yet. Enjoy!Family Dinner for Grace!
L'unic meet Grace, Grace, l'Unic.
:DMount Saint Victoire ain't got nothing us.

Friday, November 13, 2009

La Ciotat

Yesterday went to la Ciotat. Which, is a smaller french city just East of Cassis. We wandered. We ate. We drank coffee. We ate some more (it is a common activity). See the Moules below. Mmmmmm.

We sang Ariel by the sea, Avery style. It was a lovely meandering day. Just to the whims and fancies of Team Awesome (as roby call us). The drive there was spectacular. A day well spent. And well fed, as Joshi woke up earl(ier than he had to)y to buy us croissants and make us a tartine.

Above is the oldest cinéma in the world. First movie ever shown/made. It was 50 seconds long. But how cool is that? Below is the poster for the first movie ever shown.


Many.Enjoy.I did.
Claire Winter Gorton
Song: "So Long,Lonesome" By Explosions in the Sky

Sunday, November 8, 2009


Every morning I wake up and I immediately look out my window (well, it isn't really a task, seeing as my bed faces the window and then there really isn't anything else to look at in my room, or anywhere to look in shortage) and I see THIS...

And then I immediately ALWAYS want to listen to these songs... It is seriously unavoidable.


Bonjour to you all! I've got a beautiful feeling about this life of mine.
Yeah...^ those ones.

Monday, November 2, 2009


Yeah. I know. Again. But this time I scored immediately after (A goal, Jess) so we'll call it square.

So tonight I played better ( was playing with the guys), I felt I was in except I realize that playing with the girls at the other level really does hurt me sometimes. My first touch can get sloppy because there is no need for haste when playing with them. But with the guys, it is back to normal where the first touch needs to be in the direction of the next play. I will just have to push harder when playing with the girls.

Hmmmm, although I played better, one of the more embarressing moments of my life happened. The ball went over the fence, and there was a spot to crawl under that was pulled up quite high. Well, I slide under no problem, grab the ball toss it over. Go to slide under again, get under and



My hair.

My f-ing hair is caught on the fence. It was simply nothing less than absolutely mortifying. Three guys immediately rush over to help me, I don't know which ones they are as I am stuck on my hands and knees, attached to teh fence, though I believe one was Irish because a "bloody hell" was thrown around (in English, obviously) but one of the French guys said, this is just like prison break. I really could have died. They struggled with my hair for about 1 minute (which was ETERNITY) until I said, yeah, screw this and just ripped it off, I think I left a few behind.....

As I entered the pitch again I said "ça, c'est le différence entre le foot aux garçons et aux filles, non? C'est les cheveux" (this is the difference between guys and girls soccer then eh? It's hair" Agreement was all around. I don't get embarressed very easily, but this is up there in those "crawl under a rock" (NOT a fence) moments. Though, I got back to playing and soon forgot about it. Although, as I was crawling into bed last night, I cringed at the memory...

And later, while scrimmaging, I went for challenge against the 6'6'' tall man who has a solid body...I did not fall over and I think even won the ball, but man I felt like I was playing hockey. One guy, who doesn't really speak to me all that much (or even that much in general) said "Bon joue Claire, bon joue!" I was quite surprised and but knew I would be bruising soon...aaaaaaaandI'm sorrrrrrrre. Pretty much all over, as I have also pulled my left quad. Hmmm. Futsal tourney Thursday night...wish me luck!
Song: "Love you madly" Cake

Sunday, November 1, 2009

It's good to be sore

Yesterday, I went to the olive grove/farm of Roxanne and Nico Derni. They produce olive oil, in addition to small amounts of tapenade and figue vinaigre, but they are mostly olive oil people. They lived in Wisconsin for most of their adult career lives, and decided to retire to a quiet, french town of Salon de Provence to bottle their own olive oil. Yesterday, I saw the magic happen.

I went to the grove with a few dear friends to explore this opportunity that had been presented to me. Steven, The owner of Liberty Heights Fresh (where my lovely sister works) had hooked me up with Roxanne when he discovered that I was to live in Aix. He was actually traveling with his dad, and we got to spend the day together on the grove. We arrive and Rox tells us that two will go into the grove to help Nico and one will join her to make lunch. She chooses me to make lunch so we can chat and catch up a little, and we create a wonderful lunch of amazing french rolls, butter and saucisson, jambon cru, et jambon. Then some clémentins de corsica and for the after bit a big thermos of coffee. yum yum yummmm.
We go out into the fields and eat lunch with my friends and all those working and then I get to work with everyone as well. First we group teh olives that have been shaken off the tree by Nico, and then sort out the big stems and leaves. Then Steven goes along with the blower and sucks out all the smaller leaves. We then follow and case the olives by putting them in crates for Nico to take away on the tractor. next we pick up teh nets and carry the crates to the tractor. Mind you this is a grove of nearly 1400 trees, so this doesn't take 4-50 minutes. We were out there from 11:30 to about 6. But it was so good for the body, mind and soul, I wouldn't have rather done anything else on my Saturday.This property where they live, is literally idyllic. You look out upon the rolling hills of Southern France, over the rows of olive trees, to the rows of almond trees, then to the ancient roman walls built into the hillside. I will never forget that day as long as I live. In addition to the activities, as well as the setting, my comrades left nothing to be desired. Steven was interjecting quips about olives and food and places to go and intermittently asking us questions about Aix, to then proceed to inform us about favorite drinking games. Nico was full of smiles and laughs as he had free labor and happy ones at that, though he did want to kick the Australian out....for obvious reasons.... (BOGES). Though, Caitlin and I were adding real flavour to the situation with our heart (or maybe gut) wrenching renditions of Christmas carols and Disney favourites. Robyn, as always, was just the perfect company for this occasion as she lends her knowledge of agriculture and wit to our new profession of olive harvesters. Yes, we're currently looking for property to buy.We also were fortunate enough to snag a taste of the raw olives...

We ended our fantastic day with some olive oil, tapenade, and cured olive tasting that was one of the most enjoyable situations I have thus experienced in France. I learned so much, and enjoyed myself to the fullest extent. And then! Only more festivities to come as the bât 4 crew hit the town as the cast of Peter Pan....Halloween 2009: Too good to be true.

Claire Winter Gorton
Song: "Upon encountering the crippled elephant" by Clap your hands say Yeah
(not the right song...but it is not on youtube...the right band though)

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Love is a Battlefield

1. Walking through the streets of Aix singing (loudly) American National songs

2. Buying a croissant and two pain au chocolat at 1 in the morning from the 24 hour boulangerie (can we say Lil Chef? Betos? These places cross borders, cultures, and liquor preferences)

3. Je parle francais, mais pas à toi!

4. Watching Robyn ( a.k.a. Dash) sprint (using only her lower body) all of Craponne on the way home.

5. Joshi lighting up a metaphorical cigarette every 3 minutes.

6. Wishing l'Unic an à demain.

7. Heading home to watch the Hunchback of Notre Dame in french.

As number 4 refers to, I've created a new home. These friends, these places, these collages of sensations are making their way into permanence. Goodnight Aix.

Song:Jack and Diane par John Mellencamp

Saturday, October 24, 2009

de temps en temps

Now that I'm settling back into my life here in Aix, with my visa, I have continued to play soccer. I play around 3-4 times a week and with numerous teams. Tonight, the guys invited me to play and we went over to Stade Carcassonne and got it going on.

SO I played semi-decent. I had some distractions going on and they were getting in the way of my play. Boo, but true. At one point, I took a strong shot and was given some pressure immediately after shooting, and was on one foot so I fell over. And the thing is, we play on gravel....Wait for it...

Yup, and the funny thing was I didn't notice it for a little bit. I then looked down and was like "oy!" and I had smeared it all over my other leg too while playing. I looked great. But don't worry, the french guys said it was sexy. I was a little freaked out by that, (blood does not equal sexy) but they were just being nice. Odd, but nice. I was wearing my red wings t-shirt and just everyone the blood was to match it, and because I just wanted to channel the spirit of hockey.Halloween is soon right??

SO, I then continued to go get groceries for diner with Ben after soccer, and realized I was walking through Aix with this all over my leg. Ha. We were a sight. I'm sure we smelled great oo. Playing soccer for 3 hours straight, GREAT deodorant. Not to mention rubbing shoulders (and hips and legs) with french boys who do NOT wear deodorant.

Yes, we were a sight. Turning heads. It's my job.
Song: "Le Territoire" by Brazilian Girls
crappy video. Sorry.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

No exaggerating necessary.

"Now that it's over, it's hilarious. Wait, no, it was hilarious the whole time, because it was you, superstar"
-Alex McKenzie
Part One: An Intern's Naivity

As you all should know, in order to live in France, you have to have a visa. As Americans, we are allowed a free 90 days of tourist visas, that you can just get stamped in upon arrival at a border. But for long-term stuff, (such as my case) a long séjour visa is needed.

Well, back in June I (on my lunch break of course) went onto the French embassy's website to start my application process for my visa. It was the end of June, almost July to be honest. I read copious amounts of information detailing what I am required to bring to my appointment, what I cannot bring, and how to make one. So I read all this over, twice and decide that since it is Friday I will start to collect all the documents over the weekend and then make an appointment on Monday. (STRIKE ONE---> never leave government appointments until the last minute, which equates to anything under 2 months in advance) Jump to Monday with about 1/2 of needed documents. Make an appointment? Sure! I'm ahead of schedule, so let's just go with it. Riiiight. Reading, reading, clicking, reading, SHIT. Next appointment is the 12th of August. That's the Wednesday before my last day at work and 6 days before I LEAVE DC.

I need my passport number, so I can't even make the appointment. SO little freaked out I get the info and log back on. (STRIKE TWO--->Have your passport number memorized, it is just like your soc. sec. number...which I didn't have memorized either once upon a time and now have french credits from Central Michigan University registered under my name and the person't whose soc. sec. number is one different than mine. But that's a different story.) Now my appointment is on the 13th...(so just minus one day from those figures above.) Can you feel the sweat popping up on your forehead too? Now add 95 degree DC heat with 65% humidity and you're getting to where I was. Ok, so nothing I can do to change anything except get my shiz in order for that day.

13th of August:
I have my documents (originals AND photocopies) all ready in a folder from The Mitchell Group feeling ready to conquer all that is french (STRIKE THREE ---> never be optimistic about dealing with the french. Your demeanor [smile, friendliness, acting happy to be alive, not-smoking, general positive outlook] will piss them off and they will work harder to get you where they are: loathing all that is alive, and some pleasant looking rocks. Go in thinking you'll come out minus one arm or with gonnorhea, then when you actually come out crying and 300 dollars lighter, you'll feel you've gotten off well.) and so looking forward to my stay in their glorious country. I walk through the gate, declare, get signed in, etc etc and head to the visa section.

Part Two: A Nomad's Dilemma
I sit down in the room, waiting for my appointment to be called. I can see that they are a little bit behind (I now know that 20 minutes behind schedule is actually 15 minutes ahead for the french). As I sit there waiting (an-tic-i-payyyy-ting) I am watching a young woman from Trinidad and Tobago trying to get her visa. She is on the Trinidad and Tobago Track and Field team, obviously a legit sort of situation. Well, not for the french. I'm not going into details, but let's just leave it at her walking out crying as the french man tells her he isn't the dentist and she doesn't have to be afraid....amid his sardonic laughter and glowing red eyes. (ok, red eyes are an exggeration) So I'm sitting here thinking, ok Claire; in NO WAY are you to give them any satisfaction of crying, swearing, sweating or anything that isn't your (well-practiced) non-chalant-I-don't-care-if-I-actually-get-this-visa-does-anyone-have-a-cigarette-we-both-hate-our-lives-let's-get-this-over-with face. I VOWED. But I'm nervous. I, of course am from Michigan. Studying in Utah, but living/interning in DC for the summer, which makes it NECESSARY to get my visa from the DC embassy and not the one in San Fran (Utah's district). So I have leeetle time windows that make this work. Addresses had to be changed, mailing arrangements made, and documents pulled from the depths of where ever Peter keeps the secret documents. I walk up to the counter ( my appointment was at 10:30, it is now 11:15) and start the process with a horrible woman who I was silently forcing the universe to having me avoid. The universe is a strong, big thing. I got her, and we work through our process. Well apparently CVS and I weren't on teh same page and I have the wrong pictures. (STRIKE FOUR ----> when getting pictures for documents, don't smile, don't have hair in front of your ears, and do not look human, these will deem them void and unusable for a visa.) Now, you KNOW I cannot F this up. You KNOW that I leave DC the following Tuesday, so I ask this woman if I can go get new pictures for my visa and return. She tells me to be back in an half an hour and the CVS is down the street and on the right I run outside (no exaggerating on the running) Snag a taxi by chance, and haul to the CVS. Get pictures taken that cost 9 dollars (WHAT?) and haul back to teh embassy. Get my clip and rush inside. I look at my pictures, and it appears 7 strands of my hair decided to clump together and fall on my forehead to create a lovely streak of hair just blowing in the slight breeze native to CVS's. Also, I am out of breath and look as if I have a ball of poison in my mouth and can't crush it for risk of dying, all the while trying to not look like a terrorist, any sort of attractive, and tilting my head in 7 different directions after being manhandled by the clerk. 'Cause he knows how to do this *just right, trust him. Gotta have the right angles* yeahhhhh. Grand! This picture is going to follow me around France for the next year, and what a wonderful reminder of this adventure of a day (..we've only just begunnnnn..)

I now have my pictures and ready to be done. There were a few small document snags but nothing that wasn't sorted out with supplementary documents I had thrown in there. They then ask, "so princess (not exaggerating...) when are you going to France. I say that I am first going to Spain and France after. They then ask if I want my passport kept there in case my visa is approved then they can stamp it and send it to me, or if I want it with me and send it back to get stamped in. I want to take it as I am going to Spain and leaving DC (STRIKE FIVE ------> NO BOOKING TICKETS BEFORE A LONG TRIP LIKE THIS. ESPECIALLY WHEN YOU ARE JETSETTING AROUND THE COUNTRY AND NOT GOING BACK TO THE CONSULATE.....) So I ask them,
"ok, I am not going to be in the area coming up, is it possible to send my passport in and get teh visa stamped in?"
"Of course pretty lady, as long as you are approved for the visa. We only stamp visas to people that are approved" (DUH! You can tell he thinks I am an idiot)
"Thank you sir, hopefully I'll be approved and sending it back to you, ave a good day"
I write my address (well Grace's) on an envelope and hope to see it again approved.

SLC, UT Grace's House:
I have a letter. I recognise the chicken scratch as my own and get the jitters immediately. But, knowledge is power and I tear open the letter. Congrats! You're approved. Just come by anytime to the French Consulate on Monday-Friday 8:45-10:00 to get your visa stamped in your passport.
This and the coffee I had just drank succeeded completely in a near full-body meltdown. I call Alex in DC, and he just says "ohhhh superstar. Oh Claire Bear, uhh, just don't panic. " SO after putting a lot of energy into NOT panicking, we decide the best (only) course of action is to go to Spain, go to France and then we'll work this out from that side of the Atlantic. Oh, and no panicking.

Part Three: Purgatory en Provence
Skip ahead a few weeks, and Claire is in France. Tiny bathroom, beautiful view, no internet that basically sums up the first week in France. No way to communicate (which then results in my sister calling, wait, hold up, my sister making Joe call the embassy in France to track me down and make sure they didn't need to hire Liam Neeson to come rescue me.) and basically just eating bread, cheese and avacado feeling like Dorothy Jane Torkelson...

(at 00:13 through 00:16)

But, luckily, my program is talking care of me slightly. They have arranged a guy to come and pick the four of us that are enrolled in with ISEP. We were going around and doing things for the rest of our time here. Bank accounts, attestation du résidence, internet, cell phone....basically all things vital to living here and all needs requiring a visa. Zoinks.
2nd week.....
3rd week......
Ok, now that I aave spent my existence in France just trying to survive and FINALLY getting internet, I can find the place where I nee to talk to about getting my visa. Bottom line, they said they can't help and I have to send my passport back. Ok, I can work with that, but first let me go to the American Embassy in Marseille, they're on my side right? Robert Langdon and Felix all run to the American Embassy if being chased by crazy popes or henchman looking for James, right?

Ok, I'm in Marseille. The sun is shining, I bought a wonderful tunisienne pastry and headed off to the Embassy. My comrades! Nope. No. Nuh-uh. Think again. I can't even talk to them. I have to have an appointment, to TALK TO THEM. I have to go the bank next door and call them, to see if I can talk to them. Again, it's a no. WHAT? I'm sorry, I have to have an appointment. What if I'm running from the french police? Or just frenchmen in general. "yes, excuse me, I am going to get into a spot of trouble next Wednesday, could we possibly save my ass then? Movies lieeeeeee.

So back to square one. Sending my passport to The Mitchell Group, having it sent to the consulate, then back across the ocean to me. This is what the sous-prefecture (like the mayor's office) AND the American Embassy and the French Embassy in DC have told me. Let's hope for the best right? I proceed to send my passport via the french poste with a tracking number. After I send it, I try to use the tracking number (STRIKE SIX--->Do not expect anything that works in all other situations, countries, parallel universes work in France. It's their thing. To have service and then for it to always be out of order or unexplicably not there. It's like manner and etiquette in France. They have them, and apparently impeccable manners, but there is always something wrong with the situation, or that you've done to warrant their restrain of using them. It's your fault, really.) So, my tracking number doesn't work. It says after four days, to contact la poste to find your package. I wait four days, call the number-apparently that number is forbidden from Skype. I use a friend's phone, la poste just tells me to wait some more. OK, frenchies, this is my PASSPORT. I call Alex at TMG to help me find my package. He makes a few calls (LITERALLY IN 15 minutes) and tells me it arrived in the US 5 days ago, but the french post office didn't know how to send it once it arrived in the US. Come again? What do you mean? They didn't know whether to send it post or by DHL or fed-ex. Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't post from different countries get sent ALL THE TIME? And doesn't it just go from La Poste to USPS, seamlessly? I will never understand.

Well, my passport is safe at least, sitting in a box, but safe. François picks it up for me and we're a go. He takes it to the French Embassy to get me out of purgatory. Nadda. Again, are you surprised? They get all pissy with him, saying I have to DELIVER the passport and THEN they can stamp it. "oH and btw" they say, "because you have her passport, she is now deemed illegal in France."

Holla what?

Yes, Claire the illegal one. Fits, non? So, Mr. Mitchell isn't letting this fly so easily, he makes and appointment with the chief there and the other chief (just so you know, everyone is a chief in France. Chief of something. Maybe of bullshit, or of eating cheese, but they are a Godforsaken chief nonetheless!!!!) and continues to have a 2 hour meeting with these people, and he speaks french, so it is all happening in French. Which gives us a few brownie points, well more like they just took away from the huge negative amount of non-brownie points I'd already earned. meeting goes on, and the french just get more bull-headed as you try to speak to them. Honestly, there are books written about how to deal with french customer service (or lackthereof). They run around in circles (probably with a few smoke breaks in between, because, well, that's just unheard to not smoke for 2 hours straight.)

Well, they say ABSOLUTELY no way they will help. "She must return. Yuuu Americans (spit) tink yuu can geet ahwayyy wivv any-ting. Not wiv France! Jamais!"
Yeah yeah Mr. Chief we get the point, we'll start smoking and skipping work, understood.

Bottom Line. Claire is coming back to the U S A. Ta-da.

Part Four: There and Back Again - A Deportee's Tale
I book my flights. I let my professors know (without cursing the french) I will be missing class as I am having problems with my visa. I find out my friend is returning for a wedding (to Canada-she actually lives like 4hours from MP, crazy huh! Can we say visits...) and we have teh same flight from Marseille to London; I split off to DC and she goes to Toronto. So we get to share a cab to the gare routière and then the bus ride to Marseille and then the flight to London. Her bag is full and heavy with presents for those who love her at home. My bag has a pair of jeans, a fleece, running shoes and running clothes. Hello Rock Creek Park! But I also have mine very empty because I have requests for thing from the US. Peanut butter, oreos, Kashi, pretzels, you know. But in Lodon, we have the most AMAZING English breakfast, OMG. I had treacle tart and almost passed out. Only improved my Hadgrid sitting next to me with some tea. Seriously.

Eric picks me up from the Airport, la de da I can speak in English and not get stared at or feel incredibly guilty. La DE DA. He drops me off at the consulate where a friend is letting me crash (coincidentally in 515 wooooot!) and then I do. CRASH. And I crash hard. Wake up at 5, run, shower and off to TMG and the metro!

I get to TMG, Alex and I set off on our adventure to get to the embassy. Of COURSE it is located in Georgetown and on this estate, because it the FRENCH embassy. Duh. I go in there, wait. Wait. Wait. I;m not surprised int eh slightest this time though. Just happy to not being yelled at so far. Resisting the urge to give everyone the finger. I get called...
"Ahh, princess, we have not forgotten about you. Come here Princess."
I get my stamp and au revoir my way out of there...but NO. They say when I return to France, now I must get a carte de sejour IN my visa, because of "all teh problems you caused, it's very confusing, just talk to someone there about it.) (<---- in french though) Hold up. F-you. whatever. I au revoir (this time through my teeth) and get out of there like a bat out of hell. Though this was worse than hell. Because I think there is deodorant in hell. There isn't in France.

I literally run to Alex's car and just revel in the fact I am not in purgatory anymore. YAY! Later during the day, I am at TMG just helping them do some stuff as to repay them for all of their kindness, and Alex says,
A:"oh yeah, superstar, got a funny story to tell you"
A:"So, we didn't tell you this as to freak out, but you know how you were deemed illegal?"
(how could I forget)
CW:"yes, Alex, I do remember that, what of it?"
A:"Oh, well, they reported you to interpol as well. Interpol was coming after you"
CW:(three octaves higher) "what????"
A: "yeah they reported you to interpol, but we stopped them from coming after you because you had bought tickets and were coming back.

Funny, right?" Absolutely F-ing HIL-AR-I-OUS. Technically it IS funny because I am safe in my french dorm room with my visa clutched to my heart (am I joking?)
but I am very glad they didn't tell me that before.

Imagine me then. What would I have done? Hide? My friend benji said,
" I would have been like, yes sir, Claire Gorton? I can lead you to her room. I don't know her that well, those Americans you know, always causing trouble. Not like us Brits. right? Sir?"
Thanks Benj.
I think I would have hidden out until my flights. because if they got me I was never getting back. And I would have had all that illegal stuff on my record. Maybe I do now. Yikes. I would have called Maxi.
M: What's poppin' cler?"
CW: "I'm wanted by interpol. Help?"
I really should check my record out, hopefully none of the paperwork went through..... So that's my deportation story. Revel. Chuckle. Gape. Be glad it wasn't you.
Claire Winter Gorton Song: Concerto for Horn and Orchestra third movement by Mozart

"So, was the trip to Spain worth all of this?" WE DON'T THINK ABOUT THOSE THINGS, ERIC.
-Eric Crane

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Is it just us?

So recently I was in (two, actually) London Airport(s) and traveling with a friend. After checking our bags and moving through a few lines, I turned to her and said, "Is it just me, or..." and she finished my question saying, "is everyone REALLY nice here?" Now don't get us wrong, everyone was really nice. But, the main difference???


This dawned on us, and it was like water flowing over a dam, all these things that made so much more sense. I do like France. I DO. And I will a lot more come Tuesday, but it is copious amounts of funny how true to stereotypes some thing in France are. The people, individuals, aren't stereotypical of what we categorize them as. For example, they are not all snooty, cheese munching, alcoholics who hate America. Wrong. But, it is the bureaucracy and systems that are in place in France that ring true to what you have heard. People: Customer service was invented in North America. Britain and other areas of the world have caught on exceptionally well, but not so much with France. Try to get someone to help you (some whose JOB it is to HELP YOU) and at the end of it you will be not only be apologetic and guilty for asking their help, but might even walk away without anything to show for it. Wha??

Take for example, buses. We went to teh bus place to get our free month of October bus pass. We walk up, give them our best french speaker and ask for one of these in a polite and inquiring manner. In return we get "il n'y a plus" Which means there aren't anymore left. So we ask about details, and the lady will ONLY repeat this sentence to us. SERIOUSLY. So, we ask again about it and possibly getting one else where, and she says, that it'll be 20 euros, but that's a good deal for the month. Ok, so one of us buys one.

We come to find out later, there WERE ones left, she didn't have to pay the 20 euros, and they are FREE. FOR ALL. We had to go to a different place. But all these things apparently were satisfied in the sentence "Il n'y a plus" right? There aren't any left means, "we only have a few left, you have to go to another building, but if you keep asking me I'll just charge you 20 euros to get out of my sight with some bullsh*t reasoning that really doesn't even exist".

The French.

I am currently in DC right now, sorting out some very fun and very exciting details of staying in France. I keep finding out more and more about my story. So when I return to Aix, and have all teh info, I will be sure to blog and write down the HILARIOUS (only because it is over) and completely FRENCH story that is now, well, is now my life.

P.S. Treacle tart is possibly one of teh best desserts I've ever had. England, score one.
Song: "Give it up or let me go" Dixie Chicks

Monday, October 5, 2009

Derriere!! Derriere!!

So today I had a practice for soccer. The coach told me it was at 12h30. So I show up at 12:25 thinking I'm gonna be late. Why was I thinking this? I really don't know. I must have forgotten that I LIVE IN FRANCE. Everyone is perpetually late...but it is on time. Right? Yes. Wha???

So the COACH doesn't even show up until quarter to. Nice. Then we start a little later, whatever, I've lost track at this point. But we pass, we volley, we dribble. Yadda yadda yadda, not exciting. We start to scrimmage and this is where it gets fun. I am a communicator on the field. I think it stems from volleyball where communication is so necessary in so many ways. But picture this:

I mess up "shit! NO! I mean merde, crap...NO MERDE".
I was trying to be french a \nd play soccer all at once. About half way through the scrimmage I cursed "Putains!" and then proceeded to do a happy dance about my french cursing becoming subconscious....Yes I was excited about subconsciously cursing. In addition, I would be making plays and yelling "drop! derriere. Derriere? Est-ce que je peux dire derriere? and everyone was cracking up. I'm running around screaming broken english and french phrases then cursing in english and then cursing more because it was in english. Then cursing in french and getting happy. It was really fun. But soooohot. 80 degrees...yeah good idea to practice at noon...seriously?

Ben and I have been trying to get football matches on the computer. Too bad the internet is complete shite and doesn't allow us anything except for (as ben so eloquently put it) Darth Vader noises and occasional bloody glimpses of the score. But Ben had his thon and glaze on toast, so don't consider him to be that unhappy. Exhibit A.

Well I have my first big soccer game tonight. I get my uniform everything. But I think I have to buy new shoes. Bummer. But wish me luck and I'll keep you updated!

c'est moi,
Song "Be good to them always" The Books

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Gonna pick up the game

Ok. I'm Sorry. My blogs have been boring of late. Not that they were particularly gripping before, but the past few have been a new low. It's not that I've been really busy or occupied with other important things. I think I;ve been a tad bit off. Like culture shock and the like. Whatever.

But now I think I am getting back into the swing of things, and I also have the ability to get pictures off my camera!!!! WOOO. SO this mean that you won't just have to look at me holding a something. Or a something in front of my computer. Or just me. Because we all know how old that has been getting.

Here are a lot of pictures. This is a cop-out for now. But still visually pleasing, non?

Sitting in the courtyard of my school.
Out my window
View out my window
Caitlin and me
On the Cours Mirabeau on a sunny Sunday morning on the way to Market
Beautiful-out my window
The Family at dinner(from left to right) Robyn, Ben, Me, and Sebastian
Robyn and me
To Market! To Market!
Les Poissons Les Poisson. Hee hee hee hoh hoh hoh!

I sit here and eat lunch, or breakfast or dinner if I don't eat with The Family.

Song "Back to the old house" The Smiths